As Avon election looms, Main Street debuts
AVON — Main Street Mall made its official debut over the weekend in a celebration officials are hailing as a success. And if another component of the mall plan is passed by voters in a Jan. 20 referendum, plan advocates say it will become an even better attraction.
The component in question is the controversial Skier Building purchase and remodel, which would not only provide a public visitor center/bathroom area for the mall, it would effect the relocation of town hall and the town staff’s offices to that building, as well.
In one of their first acts as a new council, elected officials passed a resolution to send the Skier Building purchase and remodel to a public election after a citizen’s petition for referendum on the issue was certified by the town clerk to have received 180 valid signatures, more than the 150 required. It will be a mail-only ballot, with those ballots set to be mailed out on Jan. 5.
PRICE AND LOCATION
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The Skier Building’s location at 140 Mikaela Way — on the new mall and adjacent to town-owned parking — is one of the main drivers behind the effort to purchase the building. That, and the price is right, says Town Manager Virginia Egger.
“Town Hall needs to be refurbished, but we don’t think it can be — we think it has to be completely scraped,” she said. “Estimated cost to rebuild the town hall for future needs, $5.5 to $6 million dollars; cost of the Skier Building refurbished is $5.7 million. So that plays heavily into buying the Skier Building.”
The purchase itself isn’t necessarily the issue, referendum supporters say, it’s how it’s being purchased. By using certificate of participation bonds, the purchase does not require a public vote, but in any other circumstances taking on millions in debt would require such a vote.
“The COPs are a deliberate attempt to circumvent the Taxpayers Bill of Rights,” said Avon Planning and Zoning Commission member John Minervini, who is credited with the idea to seek out a referendum on the issue.
IT’S ALL CONNECTED
At their regularly scheduled Town Council meeting Tuesday, elected officials and staff will be briefed on the success of the recent Main Street Mall grand opening by Mayor Pro Tem Jake Wolf, who sits on the town manager’s working group for Apres Avon. Apres Avon is the official post-race site for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February, to which Avon contributed $250,000 for the opportunity.
Main Street Mall, with the new Possibility Plaza gathering ground on the east end and the town’s new $3.5 million pavilion to the west, will host many of the various Apres Avon events. Friday’s Main Street Mall grand opening, which took place following the World Cup downhill race at Beaver Creek, was considered a test event for Apres Avon.
“The sound, the lights, the vibe was as good as it gets,” Wolf said. “As far as a dress rehearsal goes, it was right on target.”
However, Wolf added, Apres Avon will itself be a dress rehearsal for what will be possible for decades to come in Avon.
“I think people will see the great cultural center we’ve created in town, and they’ll want to come back and be a part of more things there,” he said. “That’s why I’m hoping the referendum passes, to make Main Street Mall that much better for events 10, 20 years down the road.”